School board implements property tax for seismic upgrades 

San Francisco’s school board voted unanimously Tuesday to levy a special property tax that will cover seismic and safety upgrades to schools.

The board’s decision to levy the tax in 2012-13 was a formality, as voters already authorized the measure by a two-thirds majority in June 2010.

First authorized by voters in 1990 to repair buildings damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake and ensure future maintenance, the tax will continue until 2020, over which time it can be increased up to 2 percent each year depending on inflation. Homeowners older than 65 are exempt from paying the tax.

Since 1990, the district has used the money to pay for improvements such as fire alarm systems, fire sprinklers, the removal of underground fuel tanks and safety-related elements of new construction at Bessie Carmichael and Dianne Feinstein elementary schools and John O’Connell High School. It also pays for maintenance staff for safety systems.

While property taxes are restricted by Proposition 13 of 1978, the Mello-Roos Act, passed in 1982, allows local governments to levy special taxes and issue bonds authorized by two-thirds of voters.

Special Tax
$32.20 a year for a single-family home or non-residential parcel
$16.10 for an apartment
$7 million a year raised by the tax

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